Feb. 15th, 2014

jackdaws_master: (Edward Swording and Gunning)
When a reward is at stake it does not do to be late; Edward made his way down to the docks of Havana just after dawn. The sound of Rogers calling 'Duncan's' name set him on the right path straightaway. “Ah, good morning,” said Rogers, beckoning him over. “Good to-”

“Edward! Hello, Edward!”

Oh, Jesus. That voice Edward knew all too well; it was an act of willpower to merely smile and turn casually to face Stede Bonnet. The bloody merchant was waving at him from a few yards away. As he heaved a crate out of the back of a cart, he happily added, “I found a man to purchase my remaining sugar! Quite a coup, I must say!”

Edward glanced sideways to find Rogers giving him an odd look. “He just called you Edward,” Rogers pointed out.

“Oh, that's the merchant who sailed me here,” said Edward, who'd told greater falsehoods and thought nothing much of this one. “Out of caution, I gave him a false name.”

Rogers nearly smiled at that. “Ah... well done.”

Edward nodded and called back, “We'll catch up, Bonnet. Later.”

Bonnet's face looked a touch puzzled at Edward's harsh tone, but there was no time for fussing over such matters, and Edward had no real interest in patching the merchant's feelings anyway. Governor Torres had arrived, two companions in tow: Julien du Casse he recognized, but the broad-built, heavyset fellow in armour more antiquated than even the mad Milliways Dutchman's he did not. “Very punctual, Duncan,” said Torres approvingly, as Edward and Rogers fell in with his queue. “This way.”

It wasn't far to their goal: a straw awning of the sort common throughout the Caribbean, acting as a kind of temporary warehouse without walls. But this one sheltered more than merely crates. Beneath its shadow there stood several yellow-clad Spanish soldiers, guarding a kneeling prisoner. The man's hair was black, held down by a wide bandanna tied as one might expect of a bandage. His skin was filthy, his clothes tattered. When he glanced up at Torres' arrival, Edward saw his eyes were of two different colors.

“Here he is,” said Torres, “a man both Templars and assassins have sought for over a decade. I am told your surname is Roberts. Is this so?”

The man scowled, maintaining his sullen silence. Torres' gaze sharpened as he produced the crystal cube Edward had brought him. “You recognize this, I think,” he said grimly. It was not a question.

His armored companion stepped forward without a word and wrenched the prisoner's manacled hands upward. As Torres pressed a corner of the cube into the man's fingertip, du Casse noted to Edward, “According to the old tales, the blood of a sage is required to enter the Observatory.”

Sure enough, a streak of bright red had threaded its way into the cube's center when Torres held it up. “We have the key,” Torres announced to the others. “Now we need only its location. Perhaps Mister Roberts will be eager to provide it.” He gave the prisoner a look that promised ill indeed, then said to the soldiers, “Transfer him to my residence.”

It was all far too strange for Edward's liking, but he'd already got himself well in it. This was no time to lose his nerve. As they made their way through the streets he pulled up his hood, for the sun was already beating down hard, and hastened to Torres' side. “Such a fuss over one man,” he said. “Is the Observatory really such a grand prize?”

“Si,” said Torres, “si. The Observatory was a tool built by the Precursor race. Its worth is without measure.”

“Precursor race...” murmured Edward. Best, he thought, not to question that too closely. Torres spoke the words as if he expected Edward to know their meaning. “I see.”

If Torres had noticed Edward's hesitation he gave no sign of it. “One of your early letters mentioned the desire to kill the Mayan Mentor, Ah Tabai,” he said conversationally. “Were you able to carry out this contract before coming here?”

Damn and blast, why couldn't Walpole have been carrying a diary? “I... I was not, no,” Edward said slowly. They rounded a corner; ahead an arched bridge between two buildings shaded their path. “Too many... complications along the way.”

“A pity,” said Torres, sympathy evident in his voice. “But the maps you delivered with this vial will see that job finished.”

“Aye,” said Edward. “That's the idea.”

As they passed into the bridge's shadow, Rogers drew up closer. “I don't like this route, Torres. We're exposed,” he said. True enough, their path led into a wide open sunlit plaza, with buildings on all sides and very little save a single wagon in the way of cover.

“Something is wrong,” murmured du Casse. “Stay close, Grand Master!”

“I feel it too,” said Torres. “Do not let them get their hands on the Sage! At whatever cost!”

One pace in the open sun- two, three-

Tchoom! A musket-ball struck the ground beside them. “Assassins! Above! They're on the rooftops!” cried Rogers. Edward was already running for the cart's limited shelter, the better to draw his pistols, but he spotted several hooded figures leaping from building to building. He swore; this would be an ugly fight indeed.

If he were asked afterward to give an account of the battle, he would make something up. For certain he'd never remember all the details aright. Swords and hooded figures everywhere he turned, gunfire from the rooftops every time he thought himself safe out of the way, du Casse battling two of their assailants at once, the huge armored man bringing down an enemy by flinging an axe into his midsection- there was too much to keep track of, and no way to remember it all. Only the important part mattered, and that was keeping them all alive and together long enough to collect his bloody reward.

It seemed for a moment that they might have succeeded as they reached the square outside the biggest church Edward'd ever seen. Torres was alive, the other men were alive, and their prisoner was held firmly between two of the Spanish guards. Several of the monks who attended the church were staring at them, true, but-

Wait. No. That one in the middle was no monk-

Damn it to hell, now the square was full of more assassins! Edward scarce had time to take in that fact; one of them had hit him with some kind of dart, and his head was already spinning. He thought he saw two of them run at the prisoner, perhaps to free him, but the governor's armored guard broke his line of sight. The next thing Edward saw was an assassin crumpling to the ground as Roberts spun on one heel and bolted for the far side of the square. “Stop him!” Torres cried.

Well, a chase was a hell of a lot better than a sword fight if Edward couldn't stop his head from spinning. He ran. “You're a nimble one, I'll give you that,” he muttered. “Hang back and make this easy on both of us mate! Stop, or I'll kneecap you!”

Quite naturally, Roberts didn't stop. And while he was fast, in the end (and thanks in no small part to a fortuitously placed wall from which a leap was not too difficult), Edward was faster. He pinned the man to the ground, his knee square in the small of Roberts' back while he reloaded his pistol; then he rose to his feet, the gun pressed against Roberts' side. “On your feet,” he said.

Roberts glared at him a moment. “Well done, lap dog,” he muttered.

“Quiet!” said Edward, who was in no mood for any more nonsense right now. They had the man's blood; did they really need the man himself to find this Observatory?

Well, it scarce mattered. The others'd caught up; Edward shoved Roberts at du Casse. The Frenchman nodded and said, “We'll see him to the prisons, Grand Master.”

Torres gave Roberts a long, hard stare. “Double the watch,” he finally said.

As the soldiers left, Rogers let out a whistle. “Well, I'll be buggered. What an active day we've had, gents!”

“Si,” said Torres. He sounded far more weary than he'd let on a moment ago. Then again, the man was old enough to be Edward's grandfather. “Beset on all sides by our enemies. We must be more cautious.”

“I do wish I could remain to see our drama done,” said Rogers, “but I must avail myself of these winds and sail for England.”

Torres reached for the Englishman's hand. “By all means, Captain. Speed and fortune to you,” he said with a smile.

“With luck, I'll return myself a governor,” Rogers said. Chuckling, he shook Edward's hand and added, “And with my idiot King's blessing, no less. Adios!”

Torres watched him stroll away with a smile. It stayed on his face as he turned to Edward. “As for you, Mr. Walpole...” He produced a sack from his belt. It jingled nicely as he handed it over. “I consider this the first payment in a long-term investment. Gracias.”

Edward hefted the sack. It had a promising weight to it. “Obliged,” he said.

“I would like you to be present for the interrogation tomorrow,” Torres went on. “Call around noon.”

“Yes, sir,” said Edward, and watched Torres go.


jackdaws_master: Blond scruffy guy in early 1700s clothes on a dock, looking up at something offscreen (Default)
Captain Edward Kenway

March 2014

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